The Systems View of Life

Transcript of the talk


A talk given at Schumacher College (UK), Dartington on May 7th 2014 by Fritjof Capra, the author of the book The Tao of Physics.

The great challenge of our time is to build and nurture sustainable communities, designed in such a manner that their ways of life, physical structures, and technologies do not interfere with nature’s inherent ability to sustain life. To do so, requires a new ecological understanding of life, as well as a new kind of “systemic” thinking.

In this lecture, Fritjof Capra describes that such a new understanding of life in terms of complexity, networks, and patterns of organization, has recently emerged at the forefront of science. He will emphasize, in particular, the new conception of the nature of mind and consciousness, which is one of the most radical philosophical implications of the systemic understanding of life; and the urgency of this new understanding for dealing with our global ecological crisis and protecting the continuation and flourishing of life on Earth.


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  • vinaire  On January 28, 2015 at 9:18 PM

    From this talk:

    “So this Santiago Theory of Cognition is the first scientific theory that really overcomes this Cartesian split between mind and matter. Mind and matter no longer appear to belong to separate categories but can be seen as representing two complementary aspects of life: process and structure. So at all levels of life mind and matter, process and structure, are inseparably connected.”


    • vinaire  On January 28, 2015 at 9:21 PM


      “Now Cognition as understood in the Santiago theory is associated with all levels of life and is therefore a much broader phenomenon than consciousness. So in this theory we have to distinguish between cognition and consciousness.

      Consciousness: that is conscious lived experience that involves self-awareness. Not just awareness of the environment but self-awareness unfolds at a certain level of cognitive complexity that requires a brain and a higher nervous system.

      So consciousness is a special kind of cognitive process that emerges when cognition reaches a certain level of complexity.

      In evolution it emerged about four billion years ago with the great apes and it may be present in some other mammals – we are not sure maybe in whales maybe in dolphins and it fully unfolds then in the human species. And as I said the central characteristic of this special cognitive process is self-awareness.”


  • christianscientology  On January 30, 2015 at 7:36 AM

    Interesting article except the book should be called “THE SYSTEMS VIEW OF LIVING”. Life is what is doing the viewing. LIVING = MOTION. LIFE = STATIC.


    • vinaire  On January 30, 2015 at 3:59 PM

      In my view, absolutes like God and Static are used as placeholders to cover up what is not known.


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